10. Guanciale. Made by some guy in Colorado, or so says Rosario, the cured-meat impresario at Roma Deli in Pasadena. A nice, gamy pig cheek, anyway, suspiciously like the ones I used to get from Salumi Biellese on 8th Avenue in Manhattan.
9. Bacon. Nueske's, from the deli case at Gelson's. Sweet, smoky, not overly salty – the great American breakfast bacon.
8. Smoked pancetta. Guidi Marcello brings it in from someplace in the far north of Italy. Essentially, this is a slightly porkier slab bacon with an exceptionally gentle cure. It's been my favorite addition to simmered sauerkraut.
7. Smoked jowl, straight from Burger's Smokehouse, in California, MO. It wasn't until the last 20 years or so that the word “bacon'' necessarily referred to belly bacon in the South, and this dense, thinly sliced jowl bacon is exactly what you want to chop and toss into a pot of hoppin' john.
6. Pepper bacon, considered an abomination by certain aficionados, can actually be a marvelous thing if cooked over a low enough flame (pepper tends to burn if unattended). Slightly floppy pepper bacon, hot biscuits, a mug of black Monkey & Son Krakatoa roast – what could be better? The pepper bacon in my fridge at the moment happens to be from Broadbent in Cadiz, KY, and I couldn't be happier about it.
5. Double-smoked boczek. A really good, supersmoky cooking bacon – it flavored my last lentil soup – although perhaps a bit too watery to be a first-rate eating bacon. A friend brought this back for me from a deli in Chicago a few months ago. I'm not sure where you might find this in Los Angeles, but you can order something like it here: Sweetpoland.com.
4. Filtered bacon fat. From a memorable package of the cult dry-rubbed bacon from Benton's. I plan to melt down some red cabbage in this, finishing with lots of black pepper and a slug of sherry vinegar.
3. Chinese bacon. Bought kind of a while ago at the 99 Ranch supermarket in Monterey Park. I have plans for Chinese clay pot barbecue rice, which this would flavor nicely, but it's too easy to find great versions of the dish in the San Gabriel Valley.
2. Canadian bacon. Or rather, smoked pork loin, which amounts to the same thing, I'm a huge fan of the smoked pork loin at Schreiner's Delicatessen in upper Glendale.
1. Pancetta. My favorite is the slab pancetta, pancetta piana, you can sometimes get from Boccalone in San Francisco – while you're at it, order some of the lardo they make from the back fat of Iberico pigs – but the one I have at the moment is from Fra'Mani, purchased at the local Whole Foods, which has a nuttiness that really slices through an Amatriciana sauce. Not bad for a Plan B; not bad at all.
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